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Statistically Speaking

4. Kurt Busch

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Only a few days before the 2015 Daytona 500, Kurt Busch was suspended by NASCAR for alleged domestic abuse. He appealed, was denied, and sat out three races—undoubtedly stewing and vowing he would return with a vengeance.

He did just that and was one of the few drivers who could run with teammate Kevin Harvick at Phoenix International Raceway. He ran second for much of the race, but slipped to fifth in the final rundown. One week later, he was leading when a late-race caution bunched the field and he fell to third in the standings. Busch had not quite made his point yet, but fantasy owners were taking notice.

Busch scored three more top-15s in his next three starts and it appeared he had settled into a pattern. Richmond International Raceway was his final statement in the opening part of the season; he started third in that race and dominated en route to a victory. NASCAR had already given him an exemption from the rule that says drivers must attempt every race in order to qualify for the Chase and this locked him into the playoffs.

Busch had not come this far to rest on his laurels, however; he kept recording top-15s to the tune of 16 in his first 17 starts. The only time he failed to finish that well came at Dover International Speedway when he sustained crash damage.

The elder Busch brother tends to be flashy and controversial, but sitting out three races may have finally taught him to keep his emotions in check—and least for 2015. He actually flew under the radar a bit despite earning top-fives in 33 percent of his starts and top-10s in 63 percent. When he missed that mark, it was often by narrow margins and he finished worse than 17th only five times.

His relative value depended more on the aggressiveness of cap managers than his potential. Busch rarely cost fantasy owners many points, but when his value began to rise he needed top-fives to justify starting the No. 41 and they became rarer during late summer and the fall.

Busch earned only two top-fives during the Chase and one of these came in the season opener. He likely would have earned another at Martinsville Speedway in November if he had not been swept into a multicar accident at the end of the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 and that ultimately cost him the opportunity to advance to the Championship Round.

Stewart-Haas Racing seems to be developing in two separate directions. Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick have been much less impressive than Harvick and Busch for the past couple of years and that trend will probably continue into 2016. In order for the entire organization to grow, they need to concentrate on their strong points, so look for the No. 41 and 4 teams to get the lion’s share of resources and start both with confidence at the beginning of the season.

 

Track

Career Avg.
Finish

Career Avg.
Start

Best
Finish

Career
Attempts

Race 1

Race 2

Kentucky Speedway

11.20

13.20

6

5

10

 

Auto Club Speedway

11.50

14.36

1

22

3

 

Phoenix International Raceway *

13.65

12.63

1

27

5

7

Bristol Motor Speedway

14.47

17.30

1

30

15

14

Sonoma Raceway

14.80

9.20

1

15

2

 

Pocono Raceway

15.14

10.28

1

29

5

37

Texas Motor Speedway

15.54

14.69

1

26

14

7

Chicagoland Speedway

15.60

19.53

3

15

3

 

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

16.00

12.03

1

30

10

19

Atlanta Motor Speedway

16.46

16.50

1

24

NA

 

Richmond International Raceway

16.53

18.17

1

30

1

15

Talladega Superspeedway

16.57

20.70

3

30

12

10

Daytona International Speedway

17.07

21.33

2

30

NA

5

Darlington Raceway

17.32

11.89

2

19

6

 

Watkins Glen International

17.73

12.20

2

15

5

 

Kansas Speedway *

17.80

17.20

2

20

8

6

Dover Downs International

18.58

11.81

1

31

31

17

Charlotte Motor Speedway *

18.65

19.81

1

31

10

5

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

19.20

16.27

5

15

8

 

Homestead - Miami Speedway Progressive

19.50

13.58

2

12

8

 

Michigan International Speedway

20.57

12.50

1

30

1

20

Martinsville Speedway

21.48

19.58

1

31

14

34

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

22.07

9.50

3

14

NA

 

Inactive Tracks

Homestead - Miami Speedway - old

14.33

14.33

1

3

 

 

North Carolina Speedway

17.63

16.38

2

8

 

 

+ Top-five sweeps
* Top-10 sweeps

5. Kyle Busch 
6. Brad Keselowski 
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 
8. Jimmie Johnson 
9. Denny Hamlin 
10. Martin Truex Jr. 
11. Kyle Larson 
12. Carl Edwards 

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.